A Property Tax Increase To Air Condition And Heat Carpenter School?


Last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reported that Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School District 64 might need to resort to raising our property taxes now that federal funds aren’t being made available to pay for air conditioning and a new boiler for the heating system at Carpenter School (“Heating, AC issues at Carpenter have parents hot under the collar,” Dec. 2).

If that report is accurate, we have to wonder what’s up with District 64’s management.

Don’t get us wrong: we’re big fans of AC.  We rank it right up there with fire and the wheel when talking about mankind’s greatest inventions.  And heated schools are pretty useful, too.

But as we understand it, Carpenter never has had AC.  So if kids really have been going home from school vomiting because of the heat – as Carpenter parent and former PTO president Brett Parker claims – why wasn’t the need for AC and a plan to fund it put in place years ago?  And the same goes for the replacement of Carpenter’s 50-year old boiler?

Why is it that only now are we hearing D-64 Board president John Heyde warning of “big decisions” with “big costs” for ensuring that the District’s schools are “safe and healthy” places?  Is Carpenter currently unsafe and unhealthy, Mr. Heyde?

Meanwhile, D-64 Supt. Philip Bender is claiming the decision to install AC and a new boiler at Carpenter is “going to require thought and input from the general public.”

We expect the initial “thought and input” on things like A/C and a new boiler for Carpenter to be coming from Bender and the D-64 Board, because he’s the one sitting in the big chair making the big bucks to provide that thought and input; and the seven School Board members were put in their seats to do something more than just rubber-stamp regular raises for the teachers’ union and their flavor-of-the-month educational programs which don’t seem to be raising the educational performance of the District’s students measurably. 

Let those folks come up with two or three alternative plans for Carpenter, and then the taxpayers can provide their input – preferably first at public hearings, then at the voting booth in the form of a binding or advisory referendum.

And just in case the point hasn’t been sufficiently made by now: Crossing one’s fingers and hoping for a windfall of federal grant money is not a “plan.”

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6 comments so far

I blame global warming for the heat and George Bush for global warming. I also blame George Bush for not spending enough on children. Now please, PLEASE raise my taxes before it’s too late! Only higher taxes will save us.

(Deactivating sarcasm chip.)

C’mon, people, how many times can the school districts shake down taxpayers before we stand up and say “enough”?

Great post and analysis, PubDog, thanks.

Why do you choose to criticize a school system as good as ours? District 64 is the primary reason why our home values remain strong and Park Ridge remains a wonderful place to raise a family.

Oh God 1257, you are about to unleash the wrath of the PubDog editor.


“……. our home values remain strong….”


This is just one source. It shows a 13.6% drop year to year.

Thank god home prices continue to “remain strong”.

I know I should just walk away from these discussions, but this one really is bordering on ridiculous.

The Public Schools are funded primarily by local property taxes, I know it’s the mission of the Public Watchdog to argue against any taxation or government but if that is the case then how do you suggest that schools raise the revenues they need to operate? Is the underlying mission to argue against the necessity of public schools altogether, or that property taxes should be used to fund those schools?

While it’s true that property values in towns like Park Ridge have slipped during this current recession, that slippage has been far more severe in other towns where the local school systems with poorer test scores and coincidingly poorer reputations. Like it or not, strong public schools do help raise and stabilize property values. Suggesting otherwise is simply disingenous.

Frankly, the boiler issue sounds far more pressing than that of the AC. If the school cannot be heated sufficiently for use by students and staff then the only other alternative would be to divert Roosevelt students to other neighborhood schools. Of course the problem with this scenario is that all of the other public elementary schools are already either at or near capacity.

It’s all well and good to tisk tisk at District 64 for not planning ahead sufficiently, but if the need to replace the boiler is imminent then there is really no viable alternative to doing so. I’m sure all of the naysayers here will have a field day ripping my opinions to shreds instead of actually addressing my points in an honest and respectful manner. For whatever it’s worth, I’m also a taxpayer in this town who moved with her husband and kids to Park Ridge specifically because the public schools here have such a strong reputation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, it is not our mission “to argue against any taxation or government.” Our mission is to point out, and argue against, unreasonable expansion of government; government secrecy, stupidity and unaccountability; and the waste of the taxpayers’ money.

We have never suggested that good schools do not stabilize, if not raise, property values. On the other hand, we have yet to find any reputable study, formula or guideline for actually proving and/or calculating that effect, so it appears to be purely anecdotal and a matter of blind faith.

You seem to make our point for us: Exactly because D-64 is so dependent on property tax revenues, it is even more incumbent on it to scrupuloulsy budget for major structural and mechanical needs based on factors such as age and expected useful life in the context of what the community is willing to pay for.

Finally, and unfortunately, given the amount of taxes paid to D-64 but its less-than-impressive showing on things like ISAT scores, we have to wonder whether D-64’s “strong reputation” has become more memory than reality.